IAC 2019 Next Generation Plenary

IAC 10th Anniversary Next Generation Plenary

Harnessing citizen science for the future of Earth Observation


Washington, D.C., USA

21-25 October, 2019

Students and Young Professionals, We Want Your Input!


Technological and societal advances such as the rapid and widespread adoption of smart phones, cloud services and social media platforms, coupled with the development of low cost sensors, and the proliferation of instrumented, connected devices, has led to an increase in public contributions and engagement in the co-creation of new scientific knowledge, known as Citizen Science. Contributions from citizen science increase the geographic reach, sample size and volume of data collected far beyond that which scientists working alone could cover.

In the field of Earth Observation, citizen science complements and assists with satellite, aerial or ground-based image interpretation and classification; it provides in-situ data for calibration and validation activities; and integration of satellite and citizen observations can fill data gaps. Moreover, science and technology continues to be of great interest to the worldwide public. Citizen science provides a pathway for outreach initiatives and engages the public’s interest and ingenuity.

The role of citizen science in Earth Observation has revealed trends in applications, covering a diverse set of fields including weather, climate change, sustainable development, air quality monitoring, vector-borne disease monitoring, food security, flood, drought and natural perils’ monitoring, and land cover and land-use change, among other topics.

The expanding knowledge base, increased availability of very high resolution satellite imagery and technology developments such as Internet of Things (IOT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and big data are enabling the next generation of scientists to be in the front ranks of revolutionizing citizen science approaches. In line with the 70th IAC theme, “Space: The Power of the Past, the Promise of the Future”, the Next Generation Plenary panelists will share their ideas and work in innovatively incorporating crowdsourcing and citizen science into traditional workflows for the future of Earth Observation. The panelists will also address how they envision addressing challenges associated with new technology trends, data quality and the formulation of policies that will facilitate their work.

We want your input now! We invite you to share your ideas in a plenary panel with an audience of senior space leaders in government, industry and academia at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington, D.C. 21-25 October 2019!

This is a wonderful opportunity for you to address and influence the international space community.

If approved, this event will be the week of 21-25 October, 2019 in Washington, D.C., at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) (www.iac2019.org). The participants will engage in a panel discussion with other students and young professionals from around the world and interact with the audience while discussing their efforts in citizen science and Earth Observations. The plenary will be moderated in a format similar to a talk show, interweaving clips from the panellists’ audition videos with questions and comments from the moderator, other panellists, and the audience. The video clips will be used to enhance the audience’s understanding of the ideas of the plenary participants. This is an exciting opportunity that you do not want to miss!


This sounds great! What do I need to do to participate?

Panellists will be selected via a global competitive process to identify the best candidates and showcase the diversity of successful efforts in the area of citizen science for the future of Earth Observation. Their contributions to the space community will be assessed by a group of subject matter experts.


As citizen science and crowdsourced data increases in popularity, relevance and contribution to scientific outcomes, this plenary will examine new ideas, methods and practices that are projected to take firm hold.

The plenary serves to:

  • Highlight significant contributions from the next generation of space professionals in Earth Observation
  • Showcase new ideas and work done on the forefront in understanding how citizen science can play a critical role in addressing local and global challenges.

Panellists will be selected who demonstrate outstanding contributions to one or more of the following categories:

  • Researching/studying the impact of citizen science on the future of Earth Observation
  • Utilizing citizen science in their current work and projections of its future impact
  • Demonstrating/advocating to decision-makers how citizen science can solve challenges in their country or region

To apply, you must be a student or young professional, between the ages of 21-35 years old.


ROUND ONE: 15 Seconds of Fame!

Create a 15-second video telling us very briefly the subject of the project you are working on that you would speak about on the panel, and why you should be selected to address the IAC. The video must be posted on YouTube. You must be on screen and be speaking for the full 15 seconds. We will only watch/listen for 15 seconds, so be sure to not exceed 15 seconds! In addition to uploading your video, you must complete the Plenary Application by the deadline by filling out this form.

Deadline for Round 1 submissions: By Friday, 8 February 2019 (11:59 pm GMT)


Please record your video in a high-quality audio and video format. If you are selected as a panellist, segments of your videos will be used during the plenary and leading up to it to promote the plenary. Please limit special effects and no music. The video is about you, not your video editing skills. Please do not use copyrighted video, images, or music.

ROUND TWO: Three Minutes!

The IAF will select the Round Two subset of candidates from the above and notify all entrants by 25 February 2019. Specific details of Round Two requirements will be sent to the candidates in the notification. Selected candidates will be asked to create and post a three-minute video on a specified YouTube site by 10 March 2019 (11:59 pm GMT).


The IAF will select the finalists from these entries based on their creativity, efficacy of messages and relevance to the plenary topics. We will be looking for concrete descriptions of how you are actively engaged in citizen science and Earth Observations, and why this effort is important as well as demonstrating expertise in this area.

The IAF will make the final selection of plenaries for the IAC in Washington, D.C. the week of 25 March 2019 and will notify the finalists of its decision by 1 April 2019.


Who Will Sponsor Me to Travel to Washington D.C, USA?

Plenary participants will be responsible for finding their own sponsor or sponsors for their travel to and accommodations at the IAC. In addition to the obvious sources of sponsorship – yourself and your family, employer or school, and industry contacts – we want to share with you some great programs for students and young professionals that occur in conjunction with the 2019 Washington, D.C. IAC. The following are all distinct programs related to the IAC but are not directly related to this plenary opportunity.


  • IAF Emerging Space Leaders Grant Programme. See http://www.iaf-grant-programme.org/
  • Space Generation Advisory Committee(SGAC) offers a number of travel scholarship opportunities for students and young professionals to attend the Space Generation Congress (SGC) and International Astronautical Congress. The SGC event is held prior to the IAC in Washington. Visit spacegeneration.org for more information.
  • Space agency education programmes. Students in Europe, Japan and the United States are encouraged to contact ESA, JAXA, and NASA respectively to apply to their space agencies’ student programmes at the IAC in Washington D.C, USA.
  • The Future Space Leaders Foundation offers grants to students and young professionals in the United States. More information can be found at http://www.futurespaceleaders.org/about.html.
  • Be innovative! Previous Next Generation Plenary panellists have been successful in raising funding through other means such as crowd funding and local community organizations.

For questions, contact nextgenplenary.iaf@gmail.com.